Vampire Hands' Colin Johnson talks about rejoining the band at the Turf tonight

Vampire Hands' Colin Johnson talks about rejoining the band at the Turf tonight
Photo courtesy Colin Johnson

Past Picked to Clickers and psychedelic roots indie heroes Vampire Hands haven't been the same since Colin Johnson skipped town to pursue academia in the more mountainous part of the country, Missoula, Montana in 2009.

While the band has forged on as a trio and Colin has stayed busy with music in Missoula, he has returned more than once to rejoin the band as lead singer and floor-tom drummer. He'll be doing so once again tonight at the Turf Club as Vampire Hands returns to headline a show with fellow Minneapolitan-turned-Missoulan Shahs, a.k.a. Tom Helgerson, also on the bill.

Vampire Hands "Aaro: Piano" 7th Street Entry 11/06

Excited to see the full band once again this week I thought I'd check on Colin via the internets to get an idea of what's up with Colin these days and learn all about Missoula, Montana.

Hey Colin. Welcome back to town. It's been a while since you moved to Missoula. When and for what did you move there?

Colin Johnson: I moved to Missoula in August of 2009 with the sole intention of relaxing and regathering my bearings, though finishing my education was somewhere in the back of my dome as well. The short and sarcastic reason I gave most folks was that I was going to "focus on my writing" which was really code for "I no longer feel the need to pay sales tax on anything and would like to be able to buy beer & wine until 2 in the morning while enjoying stellar vibes."

So you're digging it so far?

Colin Johnson: Absolutely. There are a lot of really amazing people and I've been fortunate enough to carve myself a little enclave amongst them. Living is high.

What are you studying?

Colin Johnson: Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry and Modernist Literature.

Yowza. That's heavy. Do you have any of your writing online for people to see or coming out in a book or Kindle form any time soon?

Colin Johnson: No--not sure anyone would be particularly interested in it in the first place. For those that would, however, I'm working on a profoundly bullshitty sequence modeled after Lorine Niedecker's New Goose and a novella in the vein of Roald Dahl's erotica, publication of either depends on if tomorrow is ready for the future today. But I will say that I am very anti-Kindle; they strike me as perfectly hideous. There are few tactile pleasures in this world more divine than the feeling of a book you can burn in your hands. My judgment is final. 

So is it kind of weird from moving from a small town like Minneapolis to an even smaller one as is Missoula, MO?

Colin Johnson: Some people might feel that way. I didn't really consider the size as much as the locale. Being around mountains, beautiful rivers, and babes decked in Patagonia is a fine, wild trip. Oh, and the weather smokes the midwest's like a divine Camel Light.

What are some of your favorite spots in Missoula?

Colin Johnson: Ear Candy is our premier local record store, one of the best I've been to ever. Fine selection. The Oxford is a 24 hour bar/diner that serves the best chicken fried steak in the country. Our local VFW is my weekend stomping ground for some karaoke or to shoot some pool--in the midst of discussing the matters of our day and the insignificance of our destinies. There is a stretch of river I make my bed when the mood suits.

If you were like a tour guide of sorts for visitors from Minneapolis, what would you turn them on to, man?

Colin Johnson: My parlour, so I could say, "This is where magic happens. This desk is where I bear my soul unto the white desert of a page." If that was of no interest to my guests, and I was feeling so particularly generous as to ask them not to get the fuck out, I would drive them to Anaconda, MT and drink $1 Rainiers and play shuffle board at the JFK Bar; go for a dip in the Blackfoot River while drinking lemonade and Blueberry Stoli; thrifting in Hamilton and Stevensville; admiring the wind of Great Falls; the qusi-Masonic architecture of Helena.

In any case, how's the scene there?

Colin Johnson: Up and down, just like Minneapolis--though admittedly on a smaller scale. However, there's some really great stuff budding right now. My friend Tom who does Shahs started a local music blog called I write for it occasionally.

People must look up to you because you are from the hipster capital of the US right?

Colin Johnson: There are a lot of people from the midwest there so it all is perfectly unspectacular to be from here which is what I prefer, being that I am not. Though, when I lived here, everyone made fun of me for being a hippy; I move to Missoula and everyone calls me a hipster. Both are fake ideas.

What are you involved with musically that we might not know about?

Colin Johnson: Nicholas Ryan from Thunder in the Valley, Tom Helgerson of Shahs, and I have started performing as American Trash Band, a loose collective of different solo-projects all performing together under the ragged auspice of Dr. Hook.

VH has gone on without you but also you've played with them a handful of times since you left town when visiting right? What's it like getting back in the saddle with those kids each time?

Colin Johnson: Like a bicycle or a pair of familiar gloves. They're my best friends and I'm glad they've all continued doing what they do best in my absence.

What's different now than it was before? Does it give you special feelings inside?

Colin Johnson: I only play guitar and sing. I refuse to touch a drum since I had an unfortunate encounter with percussion that sullied it eternally. Playing those old songs does give me a special feeling for it briefly assuages the unshakable emptiness of life.

What can we expect from the show tonight?

Colin Johnson: Good Old Rock and Roll™.

Do you have any new years resolutions?

Colin Johnson: Survival and staying funky is my only resolve.

Vampire Hands, Shahs, Voytek and Wave Pool play tonight at the Turf Club in Saint Paul. 9pm $7

Vampire Hands "Invisible Stairs" Live on the Current 8/09

Vampire Hands sans Johnson "Dreams"(Fleetwood Mac cover) 3/11

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